Transgender bathroom laws, legalizing gay marriage, the assault on religious liberty, the list goes on and on. The reason it seems like Christian values are under attack on every front is because they are under attack on every front. The slow erosion of biblical ethics in American culture has seemingly turned into a landslide within the last decade. Christians are openly mocked in the media, and yet it’s politically incorrect to speak ill of any other religion.
All of these issues are symptoms of a much bigger issue, an issue that I believe will define American evangelicals in the 21st century. As important is issues of religious liberty, sanctity of life and biblical standards of personhood and sexuality are, they are all symptoms of a much bigger narrative. The biggest issue American Evangelicals will face for the next 50 years is how we handle our transition from a moral majority to a prophetic minority. We are living in a post-Christian nation. The golden years of Christian influence on government and culture are behind us. The Moral Majority initiated culture wars in the 1980s to try and hold back the outgoing tide of our waning influence.
Whether we admit it or not, Christian values do not dominate anymore in America. We’ve lost our cultural influence to Hollywood. We’ve even lost our special day of the week to the NFL and NASCAR. We’re not dead in the water by any means, but our hopes of a Christian-dominated government/society/culture have long been dashed. We’re losing the culture wars.
But it’s not the end of the world. The early church grew and flourished in a society that was decidedly anti-Christian. The biggest issue for us is how we handle the transition from moral majority to prophetic minority. Do we go down kicking and screaming? Do we opt for a scorched earth policy, loudly condemning and judging everyone on our way to cultural obscurity? Do we jump ship and withdraw, removing ourselves from everything, circle the wagons and hold on till Jesus comes back? Do we throw our hands up, quit trying and just watch the whole place burn?
Or do we go back to our roots, to a time in history before we came to dominate civilization through the Roman Catholic Church, to the first century? Do we attempt to rediscover the essence of what it was that allowed the church to explode in growth despite the most hostile environment possible? Do we go back and try to discern what allowed men like Daniel in the Old Testament to exert so much influence in foreign cultures?
Whichever way we go, Christianity’s influence over society as a whole has decidedly moved from the majority to the minority. Our biggest issue for the next 50 years is how we handle that transition. My prayer is that we refocus and rediscover the power of the early church, a movement not build on legislating morality or voting for the right candidate, but built on love and good deeds. That’s a movement that changed the world, and still can today.